Tag: Phoenix AZ

Comprised of Rob Withem (guitar, vocals), Greg Markov (bass) and Thom Walsh (drums), the Phoenix, AZ-based indie rock trio Fine China can trace their origins back to 1997. And soon after their formation, the trio released their first two EPs and a 7 inch through the Southern California-based indie label Velvet Blue Music. The Phoenix-based indie rock act went on to release three more full-length efforts, including 2005’s critically applauded The Jaws of Life, which also had material featured in several TV shows.

Late 2016 saw the 12′ vinyl re-issue of their critically acclaimed The Jaws of Lifewhich interestingly enough saw the release of a bonus track to coincide with a 10 year reunion show; in fact, the bonus was met with critical applause and as a result, the vinyl re-issue quickly sold out. Building upon the growing buzz that surrounded the band again, the band’s first release in 12 years Not Thrilled finds the band returning to their original label home, Velvet Blue Music, who released their debut effort over 20 years ago. Slated for a February 23, 2018 release, the material on their forthcoming album was recorded in Rob Withem’s home studio and mixed by Bob Hoag, their longtime producer and engineer at Flying Blanket Recording in Mesa, AZ.

“Anyone Else,” the first official single off the new album will further cement the band’s long-held reputation for crafting a warmly familiar, shimmering, 120 Minutes-era guitar pop sound with an anthemic hook — and although the band’s Withem says in press notes that “I wanted a sound that harkened back to singles from the mid to late 80s that I heard on the radio as a kid — stuff like Don Henley and Dire Straights. But root it in an elegant guitar pop sound, like XTC or Crowded House,” the song (to my ears, at least) reminds me quite a bit more of The Smiths, which isn’t a bad thing to go for.



New Video: Introducing the Breezy and Self-Assured Pop of Up-and-Coming Phoenix-born Los Angeles-based Artist Upsahl

Growing up in a deeply musical family, the 18 year old, up-and-coming, Phoenix, AZ-born and Los Angeles, CA-based pop artist Taylor Upsahl, who writes and performs under the mononymic moniker Upsahl, started playing guitar and piano when she had turned 5, and by the time she was 14, she had written and released a self-titled EP, which caught attention across the local music scene for material that was influenced by The Shins, Spoon, Lorde and Beyonce among others. In 2015, she pieced together a band, and then wrote and self-produced her full-length debut Viscerotonic. 

Upsahl’s third full-length album Unfamiliar Light was released earlier this year to critical praise from the likes of Phoenix New Times, who had written that the album was a “breath of fresh air” and that fans will be “blown away by the quantum leap in sound and vision,” and when you hear album single “Can You Hear Me Now,” which was released last month to praise from Nylon, who called the song a “a girl-power anthem you’ll want to play on repeat all summer long,” you’ll see — er, hear — why the young, Phoenix-born, Los Angeles-based artist has been dominating the blogosphere: produced by Max Frost, the single which features strummed guitar, boom bap beats, swirling electronics, undulating synths and chiming percussion reveals an artist, who is self-assured and confident beyond her years and perhaps more important, an artist who can craft an mischievously infectious, radio-friendly hook. But underneath the breezy and infectious surface is a message rooted on resilience and the recognition that a failing relationship isn’t the end of the world; that in fact, it could be an opportunity to recognize that the listener can and should be treated in a way that they deserve. 

Directed by Matty Steinkamp of Sundawg Media, the recently released video for “Can You Hear Me Now” features the up-and-coming pop artist with a group of friends and associates, dancing and goofing off in a number of neon-colored set ups; but underneath the surface is the fact that everyone is making the best of the situations in front of them. And while clearly nodding at Taylor Swift, the video reveals a young woman, who is quirky, coquettish, incredibly self-assured and self-possessed. 

Perhaps best known for his stints as the frontman and primary songwriter of art rock acts The Curious Digit, Manishevitz and Sonoi over the past two decades, singer/songwriter Adam Busch‘s solo debut effort, River of Bricks was released last Friday. As the story goes, Busch began writing the material that would comprise River of Bricks while on a hiatus from music to spend time raising his newborn son.

And although Busch intended the hiatus to be about the domestic life, the time away was an opportunity to try out new ideas without the external pressure of having to produce material for an ensemble — and I would also presume that it allowed him an opportunity to create something carte blanche, without the pressure of having to write a song with a band’s established reputation for a particular sound or approach in mind either. In any case, as the story goes many of the songs emerged while Busch was studying guitar with with African music scholar Nathaniel Braddock, who began teaching Busch a variety of finger styles including African. American Primitive, as well as British folk.

Recording began during the Spring of 2013 in Chicago and continued in Phoenix with Busch’s longtime collaborator and Boxhead Ensemble founder Michael Krassner, and features contributions from several members of Manishevtiz, as well as percussion from Joe Adamik, who’s best known for his work with Califone and Iron and Wine; guitar, bass and keyboards from Wil Hendricks of Boxhead Ensemble; cellist Fred Longberg-Holm; and Justin Amolsch on French horn.

River of Bricks‘ latest single “Tiger” is comprised of a rather stark arrangement of drums and Busch accompanying his vocals with guitar. Sonically, the single sounds as though it were informed by Arabic music, psychedelia and jazz in a song that’s intimate and seems inspired by lonely contemplation of life’s eternally confounding mysteries. And as a result, the song has a hushed yet palpable feeling of awe and reverence paired with deeply imagistic lyrics. Simply put, it’s an effortlessly beautiful song that strikes me as being perfect for wandering around on a chilly but gorgeous Fall day.